#344 theoldmortuary ponders

Here we are, a £1:75 pineapple, my tenuously linked story, that brings a royal flavour to this blog.

We spent the weekend camping at Heligan. Loads of history and stories. The fruity one that stuck was the not-so-humble story of the Pineapple.

Between 1770 and 1850 growing Pineapples became the horticultural aspiration of the upper classes. An imported pineapple at the time would cost the equivalent of £5000. If you were rich enough to own one you could hire it out until it was virtually inedible, people so craved them as a centrepiece of their fruit bowls and as a sign of their wealth. However if a guest attempted to touch the pineapple security guards, provided by the actual owner, would step out from the dark recesses provided by candlelight and the host would be embarrassed that they had been caught out as hirers, not owners, of the precious fruit.

Wealthy landowners like the Tremayne’s of Heligan built pineapple pits in their kitchen gardens to grow their pineapples. Absolute mountains of horse manure were required to heat each pineapple pit and Heligan had 15 of them. When the restoration of the kitchen garden was complete it took 7 years to perfect the art of growing pineapples in Cornwall using centuries-old techniques. If you take into account all the research, labour and failure that Heligan has endured growing Pineapples each one still has a price tag of about £1,000. They are never sold, each one that makes it to the eating stage is divided among all the staff, who get to eat it.

Except for the 2nd pineapple ever grown in modern times at Heligan. It was given to the Queen and Prince Phillip for their 50th Wedding anniversary in 1997. Which just about squeaks me into my 10 days of Royal topics for the 10 days of Official Mourning. I wonder how long it will be before people start trying to touch my £1:75 pineapple?

This blog also explains why pineapples are so often seen as a motif in architecture, bling in the form of fruit.

#343 theoldmortuary ponders

This is the first actual wreath we have seen to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth the Second,and possibly one in one of the most unusual locations. It is hung outside a ‘Thunder Box’ . It is important to read the link below to understand the context of this site. It is considered to be a living War Memorial and is where tributes are always placed in Heligan, the place we visited today.


Heligan is a fabulous place to hang out for the weekend. Sunshine and cooler weather are definitely heralding autumn.

It is always an early autumn pleasure to spend time with pumpkins before they are incorporated into the dreadful, trashy, import of Halloween, a festival with no merits,in my opinion, that ruins everything about pumpkins and the gorgeous season of Autumn.

Small, warty pumpkins.
Plump, audacious pumpkins including my favourite ‘Turks Head’

Autumn may well be rattling, respectfully, under the circumstances, on the door but bees are still busy with summer business.

Although these bees live in ancient homes called Bee Boles.

We’ve walked many miles today and listened to some lovely history lectures, which were a fine excuse to sit down for an hour or so. The coffee and comestibles have been perfect. Welcoming Autumn with bright sunlight and gorgeous flowers is very satisfying.

#266 theoldmortuary ponders

Building family memories at the Lost Gardens of Heligan did not disappoint.

Advert in Devonport

Even getting there lived up to the name. Despite visiting many times we talked so much we missed the turning and ended up in Mevagissy. No bad place to end up but not the destination of our actual day.  A family reunited after the Covid years is an overwhelming experience but Heligan gave us the time and place to wander and talk and reconnect in groups of one or two or even as one big pack. Under the watchful gaze of non human, plant sculptures.

Or even a traditional scarecrow keeping birds off flowers and observing us under his watchful button eye gaze.


Brave things were done by me, a person whose life -long anticipatory vertigo is something to be lived with but not life limiting. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Just doing really normal things with people that you love is just so pleasurable after two years isolated from one another. One lesson I have learned is just to keep pushing forward. Not always on a rope bridge, for sure,but looking forward rather than back is a strategy that works for all aspects of life as well as rope bridges.

Pandemic Pondering#434

The lost blog in The Lost Gardens of Heligan. This mornings blog was lost in the herds of tourists that have arrived in Cornwall for their holidays now no-one can travel abroad. Then it was further lost in an uncharged phone.

A trip to the Lost Gardens of Heligan is a regular treat for us and one that normally we dont plan too formally. But in these busy times we had to book and the only time slot available was really early. Not too tricksy I thought I can blog before I go. Unfortunately due to fashion and stupidity I needed to quickly collect some blister plasters before we even set off. I plugged my phone in to charge on the drive down and was surprised to arrive with only 10% battery. Three pictures later that was it.

One dead battery and many photo opportunities missed.

So apologies for the late arrival of this blog some days the moments in life just dont quite stack up for 600 words before 8 am.

Pandemic Pondering #102

A rope bridge, currently closed, so no irritating people on it to ruin the image.

Saturdays newspaper devoted the magazine to many sports personalities and other types of celebrities talking about their ‘Lost Summer’.

Mr Bronze Turkey, grateful to see a few visitors after 3 months with no-one looking at him.

I realise I have not been prepping myself towards something momentous, that Covid -19 has taken away from me, and of course I’m not in any way famous but I don’t see mine or anyone elses missed moments as Lost

Quiet contemplation for a small person with a pathway to herself.

Life has just taken it’s own path as it always does, regardless of Pandemics. The next three months in the Northern hemisphere are Summer 2020 and obviously Winter 2020 in the Southern hemisphere. Not what anyone anticipated but valuable just the same.

Dicksonia Antarctica , more than 120 summers, many of them ‘different” to expectation.

The pictures illustrating this blog are definitely a gain. Covid-19 and its restrictions have given us many reasons to ‘ Seize the Day’ not too far from home. Summer Gains 2020. All pictures taken at The Lost Gardens of Heligan, during its Social Distancing phase. Calmer, quieter, a little wilder and still lovely.

Restricted opening to comply with social distancing but gorgeous in its own way.

Pandemic Pondering #101

@theoldmortuary had a bit of a Sunday snooze .Having a guest author for PP#100 was a great chance to step back and have a think. As many parts of the world ease out of Lockdown it could have been a good place to stop but the virus is still out there with no sign of a vaccine. The pandemic is not over so neither is the pondering.

Better later than never this little blog is about a sailor from World War 1. The sea being a bit of a theme on the cusp of PP#100
I found a plaque recording his story at the Lost Gardens of Heligan today. Charles Dyer was one of twenty gardeners who had worked at Heligan before WW1 who ultimately lost their lives as a consequence of that conflict.


Charles’ story is a little more complicated than many. This plaque tells his story.

In 1918 Charles was hospitalised at Chatham Naval Dockyard. One day he put on his uniform and walked out of the Dockyard never to be seen again. He was listed as a deserter and his family were shamed and deprived of a pension.

2 years later a body was found in a wood close to the dockyard. It was identified as Charles by his wedding ring. He was taken off the deserters list, his family granted a pension and his body was returned to Mevagissy Cemetery and given a Commonwealth War Grave headstone.

I’ve aged some photographs I took today to illustrate this desolate tale.